This I Believe

Hodges, Leigh Mitchell


And now, This I Believe. The living philosophies of thoughtful men and women presented in the hope they may strengthen your beliefs so that your life may be richer, fuller, happier. Here is Edward R. Murrow
This I Believe. Leigh Mitchell Hodges is a newspaperman. For fifty uninterrupted years he has conducted his twice a week column “The Optimist” in the Philadelphia Bulletin, which makes it America’s oldest newspaper column. He estimates his output to date at six times the number of words in the Bible. He says the aim of his column is to give ordinary persons a simple, philosophical approach to life. Here is Leigh Hodges to state his own philosophy.
It’s easy to say, “I believe,” but not so easy to put in words the inner feelings that determine personal convictions. And we must remember that change, which Albert Hubbard called the “only permanent thing,” plays a continuing part in one’s evaluation of the truth or assurance of anything. Once upon a time, men were punished for disbelieving that the Earth was flat and the Sun moved around it.
At 76, I still find it difficult to affirm a fixed creed. But some things are deep-rooted in me, perhaps because they stem from an early need for self-support, which taught me the worth of work. So, after faith in a supreme source passed comprehending, I believe in work as the key which opens the door to usefulness, nourishes happiness,
and teaches the necessary lesson that all we really can own is what we earn.
After more than 25 years of fearing everything from storms to insanity, I sat down with myself one evening and took stock. No storm had harmed me, and I wasn’t in an asylum. Fear had proved a failure. So I decided to turn to hope and confidence. It wasn’t as easy as it sounds, but with the aid of experience, from which too many of us do not profit, the results had been increasingly gratifying. I believe in myself, not arrogantly but rather humbly, as a physical, mental, and spiritual machine which, properly fed and cared for and duly restrained, can, in some measure, produce mutual benefits.
I believe it’s as wrong to belittle self as to exalt it. I believe in beauty as food for the soul, a lively sensing of it in nature, music, poetry, painting, and woman; and in the vastness of human goodness that seldom makes Page 1 in newspapers. I believe there’s almost no limit to what we humans can accomplish if we steer by perseverance and a sense of values, if we try to keep a proper balance between making a living and making a life. But neither is possible so long as we give into tears for the past and fears for the future.
Life begins each morning. Each new day is another chance. Just now, more than ever before, perhaps, it’s a chance to put a shoulder to the rumbling wheel of a world bumping along a rocky road; a shoulder strengthened by a living belief in the need for all we can do and give to save freedom, especially freedom of belief.
That was the creed of Leigh Mitchell Hodges, beloved columnists of the Philadelphia Bulletin. He lives and works in Doylestown in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.